Herniated, slipped, or ruptured discs are some of the most common causes of lower back pain and sciatica. Almost 60-80% of people will develop low back pain at some point during the course of their lives. The majority of these cases are caused by herniated discs. Herniated disc can be very painful, but they can get better with non-surgical treatments.
Your Spine Anatomy
Your spine is composed of 24 bones, or vertebrae, that are stacked on top of one another. Your vertebrae creates a canal in order to protect your spinal cord. The lumbar spine is composed of five vertebrae that make up your lower back.
Your spine also includes:
How disc herniation happens
Herniation begins when the jelly-like nucleus pushes against the outer ring of your disc. Any sudden injury causes this wear and tear to happen and low back pain occurs from the pressure the outer ring receives. The jell-like center may even squeeze all the way through when the disk is vey worn or injured. When the nucleus breaks (herniates) through the outer ring, sciatica pain increases due to the inflammation of this jelly-like material in the spinal nerves. It will also bring pressure to the sensitive parts of the spine, such as spinal nerves, which can then results in leg pain, numbness, or weakness.
The natural aging of the spine also causes herniated discs. The discs of children and young adults have higher water content. As we age, our discs start to weaken and dry out. This causes the disks to shrink and the spaces between the vertebra to narrow. This normal aging process is referred to as disc degeneration.
Herniated disc risk factors
Aside from aging, there are other factors that increase the risk of a person getting a herniated disc, including gender, improper lifting, weight, a sedentary lifestyle, and many more.
We’ll be discussing these during the next leg of our herniated disc series.